Euthanasia: The Freedom of Choice | Teen Ink

Euthanasia: The Freedom of Choice

February 28, 2014
By Eclair2116 BRONZE, Oswego, Illinois
Eclair2116 BRONZE, Oswego, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

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Is euthanasia cruel to those who do not wish to die or a beacon of hope to the poor souls whose deaths are dated? There are many different types of euthanasia with different intentions. Even though euthanasia is mostly frowned upon nowadays, it was an accepted practice even during the times of the Romans and Greek. There are many ways in which assisted suicide, or euthanasia, is justified as a way to end a person’s life. Landmark cases have been made for the right to assisting in a sick person’s death. Euthanasia is not the problem, but the way people use it can be an issue. If euthanasia is illegal, should suicide be illegal? Euthanasia is just another option a person may end their life.

Now many countries frown on euthanasia, even though it has been believed in for centuries. Even the Greeks and Romans had writings that “revealed a belief that death, even if initiated by self or another person, was preferable to prolonged suffering” (Newton, Heather). Even centuries ago, ending someone’s life to relieve their pain was an acceptable, almost honorable action. Some governments agree with some forms of euthanasia but cannot fully agree with all types of euthanasia. Some agree that “physician-assisted suicide is invoked to alleviate unbearable pain and suffering” (NCBI). Euthanasia is used as a way to escape for those whose lives are filled with constant, unbearable pain and suffering. Sometimes voluntary euthanasia is accepted in court cases instead of punishing the person or persons who helped in a person’s suicide. Euthanasia means, in Latin, a “good death,” so why is the practice of it not allowed? As time goes on, the practice of euthanasia is becoming acceptable like back in Roman times. Oregon, Montana, and the Netherlands have legalized “physician-assisted suicide,” (Terris Fight) one type of euthanasia. Vermont has legalized “doctor-prescribed suicide,” (Terris Fight) as a form of medical treatment, very similar to “physician assisted suicide.” In other words, euthanasia is becoming more accepted all around the world.

However, there are different forms of euthanasia and some are as not acceptable as others. One of the more acceptable forms of euthanasia is physician-assisted suicide. Physician-assisted suicide is “providing the drugs by means for a sick person to kill themselves” (Cavan, Seamus). This is more accepted than the other types of euthanasia because the sick person wishes to die and self-administer the drugs that kill themselves. Other-administered euthanasia is less accepted but understandable to some. This type of euthanasia is a physician who administers a lethal injection “at the request of an ill patient, to end their life” (Cavan, Seamus). This euthanasia is still at the patient’s request but the actual death of the person is caused by someone besides themselves. Very few cases have seen this type of euthanasia as good cause for “murder.” There are other types of euthanasia where there is “deliberate action to end the life of a dying patient to spare further suffering” (Cavan, Seamus). Another kind of euthanasia is “deliberate withdrawal of treatment in order to permit the patient to die naturally” (Cavan, Seamus). The most frowned upon kind of euthanasia is involuntary euthanasia. Involuntary euthanasia is when someone, “without the consent of the patient, euthanizes the patient” (Cavan, Seamus). A large example of involuntary euthanasia is “Aktion T 4,” a Nazi euthanasia program during the holocaust to “purify” the German race (Cavan, Seamus). While some types of euthanasia can be acceptable, others cause people to question whether they should open the door to euthanasia as a whole.

Nevertheless, many court cases have been made in favor of certain acts of euthanasia, mainly physician assisted euthanasia. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, also known as “Dr. Death,” has been administering lethal injections to dozens of ill patients. In court, his arguments were mostly justified and Kevorkian walked free until he met Thomas Youk in 1998. Thomas Youk was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and wanted to die. Kevorkian showed a tape of himself, “administering a lethal injection to Thomas Youk” (Newton, Heather). Mainly, Kevorkian’s reasoning’s for his choice of euthanasia was justified. He was finally charged with second-degree murder of Mr. Youk and sentenced to ten to twenty-five years. Kevorkian understood euthanasia is illegal and took the risks to end Mr. Youk’s suffering. A more recent case was about Barbara Mancini giving her “terminally ill, 93-year old father a bottle of morphine” (The Associate Press). In 2013, Mancini was arrested and faced trial for the “murder” of her father. Mancini was supported by Compassion and Choices, who also support the “death with dignity” laws. Before this case in 1994, Supreme Court ruled, “patients who are dying and in pain have the legal right to get prescribed medications to alleviate that suffering” (The Associate Press). Supreme Court had created this law long before this case came into question. Barbara Mancini is not a doctor; the law almost entirely follows this case. Mancini’s father wished to die and instead of waiting for a doctor to prescribe him lethal medication, she gave him morphine to help end his pain. The Supreme Court, or any court, should not be involved in this case because Mancini simply gave her father medication to and his suffering like any doctor would if they knew he wished to die. These cases were an issue in the United States, but other countries also have issues with euthanasia. In 2004, twenty-five year old K. Vankatesh, suffering from muscular dystrophy, wished to donate his organs. He “sought to enforce the right [to die] so that he could donate organs before they were affected by his illness” (Singh, Amardeep). His plea was rejected the day before his death. The court ruled that his petition, “violate[d] the Transplantation of Human Organs Act” (Singh, Amardeep). This act did not allow individuals to donate organs before they became brain dead. But Vankatesh knew he was dying soon and wished to become helpful even after his death. Because Vankatesh’s case was rejected, it sparked a debate about the Right to Die in India. Even unsuccessful cases cause the subject of euthanasia to be brought up and questioned again. In some ways, cases prove euthanasia is wrong, but many others show the good that could have been done if euthanasia was used.

Undoubtedly, numerous cases have been made for and against euthanasia; overall, euthanasia is a positive idea and should be a choice to those who are gravely or terminally ill. Many writers are in dispute over euthanasia. Numerous people believe, “The idea that human life is sacred no matter the condition or the desire of the person seems to me irrational” (Stokely, Anne). In 2013, Ms. Stokely wrote a paper on her view of euthanasia. The paper thinks that people have the right to die when or if they can end their pain and suffering. Several counters have been made against euthanasia but, “two principles outweigh all of their arguments: patient autonomy and the individual’s right to decide what to do with his or her own body” (Stokely, Anne). By making euthanasia illegal, the rights of ill patients are being withheld which is unconstitutional and therefore should be protested. Even if euthanasia is outlawed in every country, it will still exist and be practiced. No matter the law, “assisted suicide is widely practiced” (Stokely, Anne). More people every day believe that euthanasia is justified. The choice of euthanasia can be a comfort just, “knowing that they have the legal power [to] end their lives may give terminally ill patients emotional security” (Stokely, Anne). It is reassuring that people have the right to their own life. Just knowing that you could have the legal ability to your own body would reassure the patient. The opposition is that people in pain or have numbered days would make rash decisions to get out of the pain. Even people who live normal lives make rash decisions and kill themselves. How can you restrict the sick of rights the healthy receive?

Overall, euthanasia should be a God-given right to those who need extra help in ending their lives. It was once an accepted belief and later thought to be not right and made illegal. Now, euthanasia is under the spotlight again to figure out whether the sick may have the same rights as the healthy. Several types of euthanasia are acceptable to the public but; the other types will not be ignored, making the decision to legalize euthanasia more difficult. In spite of those opposing types of euthanasia, many judges have agreed with cases of questionably illegal euthanasia. For the people, euthanasia is a freedom everyone should enjoy.

The author's comments:
I am pro choice for euthanasia and strongly believe it is a good thing. I hope that more people begin to realize that euthanasia is a positive idea.

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